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Thursday, July 31, 2003

"On the Set: Day Fifteen (15): The Last Day."

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Fifteen.... Thursday, July 31, 2003

Now today, was a really cool day on-set!

It was, unfortunately, a rainy one. Heavy clouds drifted overhead, and thunderstorms were in the forecast. As I was walking down from the main street on which my bus traveled, and on the road into Miller Park, it began to sprinkle some. I had my umbrella with me, but figured it wasn't needed for rainfall as light as it was. It didn't take me long, however to realize, it wasn't just raindrops hitting my face, it was lots and lots of tiny knats.

I glanced down, and found I was covered in those annoying little insects. Brushing them off, I opened my umbrella and decided to walk behind it, thus deflecting the little bugs from their aimless flight paths directly into my face. It was a little unnerving to realize that it wasn't just the raindrops tapping lightly against my umbrella, it was moreso those hundreds of little knats meeting an untimely end.

Some time after I had arrived at the ballpark, had eaten a small first meal, and sat chatting among friends, we were brought down to the field to do a scene. It was a small group of talent sitting down by the Brewers dugout apparently for a closeup shot on a main character. However, as I made my way down to the location for filming, I was reaquainted with the knats, who, this time, swarmed around so thickly that most of the crew had surgical masks on to avoid inhaling them.

Eventually, the knat problem got so unbearable, that the crew decided drastic action needed to be taken to remove the swarm -- drastic action short of opening the butterfly retractable roof over the field. (Afterall, it was raining outside.). It was decided that all the lights on the field, both stadium lights as well as those many large powerful flood lights, would be turned off. The knats would then be lured to select lighted locations, and essentially fumigated with what appeared to be areosol cans of bug repellant. The task was successful for the most part.

I noted though, as the stadium lights and flood lights were turned off, that the interior of Miller Park is quite attractive in the dark. The field was no longer lit at all, and the only light casting illumination were those small dots of light coming from the various concourse areas behind the stadium seating sections. It was a beautiful sight, I thought, and again, one that is not commonly witnessed.

While the lights were off, someone fittingly piped some "Twilight Zone" music throughout the stadium's PA system, setting the mood quite nicely. After a while the music turned to that of a variety of older light rock songs, and as we listened, Dave, Jessica, and myself chatted in the dimness of the ballpark. It was definitely a serene experience.

After about 20-30 minutes the solution was put in place and the lights slowly turned back on one by one. Whatever the crew had done, it largely removed the swarming knats, but had also no doubt set the crew's filming schedule for the night back quite a bit.

Now that filming could begin again, the scene would be that of a number of very tight crowd shots during the last important game of the 2004 season (end of the movie). At the unexpected request of one of the crew, I (as well as my friend Jessica) found myself directly in that shot(s). Yes, it's been confirmed, I'll be featured on screen in the final cut of that scene. That's pretty cool.

I also found myself sitting there right behind Michael Rispoli (Jackie Aprile on "The Sopranos", and Joey Fusco Jr., the annoying landlord's grown son, in "While You Were Sleeping."). He plays a notable role in the film.

Rispoli didn't say much as he sat among our small group, presumably preferring to remain focused on his character's motications and such. But he seemed like a friendly guy when he did talk. I was intruiged too by his natural accent. It seemed heavily New York or Brooklyn.... There's something I like about that accent. Unfortunately, I've never been able to flawlessly duplicate it. Whenever he talked, I had a hard time trying to listen too intently intently to his vocal patterns. It must be the actor in me. I like voices and dialects. :)

But, accent aside, Michael Rispoli seemed to be a pretty nice guy. He wasn't as outgoing as Bernie, but it was nice to meet him, even if briefly. And I'm thrilled to have been able to work with him in that scene. That was a wonderful surprise. In fact, I want to thank that individual who requested I be placed in the scene. That was an unexpected, and very thoughtful gesture... and one he/she didn't have to do. Thank you. :)

Since it was our last day on the set, Dave, Jessica, and myself decided to have a little fun with our attire (when the camera's weren't roling). In other words, we decided to dress up for the day. Dave came in a snazzy 1980's pastel sport jacket outfit he'd found at a thrift store the night before. He wore the part well all day, garnering both the intended quizical or raised-eyebrow looks, as well as a few appreciative compliments.

I wore a (rather unattractive) multi-colored plaid sports jacket I had picked up from a college theatre department rummage sale for $1, and added a brightly colored jester's hat I had to finish off the look. I too got the intended strange looks, and I'm sure I came across as an idiot, but, the truth is.... looks can be deciding. Dave and I proved that well.

Jessica brought along a colorful tie-dyed shirt. It was kind of funny, at one point we were all wearing our attire, and the hideous combination of colors the three of us had on as we walked side by side gardered some very interesting comments. But those intended strange looks were the best part! In the end, it was a lot of fun to try something crazy like that on the last day, and a great way for the three of us to bond.

Today, I also met up with Charles Papert, the head camera man again. He made a point to say hi and chat for a bit, and, even at one point in the evening, came up into the stands and met Dave and Jessica. I think they were as thrilled as I, in many regards. Charles is a nice guy. I think I'm going to have to make a point of keeping up-to-date on the projects he works on too. He's a talented camera operator, and another one of those creative people I enjoy working with.

Throughout the rest of the day, I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to sit and chat with Dave and Jessica. I really hope the three of us can stay in touch, now that filming is done. We've built a pretty good friendship there.

At one point earlier in the evening, while the three of us sat in the stands, we ended up meeting the younger brother of the stand-in for Bernie Mac. The stand-in, a young guy by the name of Marsallis, is already a funny guy, oddly, much like Bernie. He and Bernie seemed to enjoy entertaing each other down on the field. When we met Marsallis' brother, it was clear that wit ran in the family. Either of them could have easily been a mirror of a younger Bernie Mac. It was uncanny really. It only goes to show that you can definitely meet some interesting people at an event like this.

By the time we had all been let go early in the morning on Friday, and after the three of us had enjoyed breakfast at IHOP, we parted ways to return to our respective off-set lives. The feeling was mutual though, we're definitely going to miss being part of the "Mr. 3000" family. It was a wonderful experience, and one none of the three of us are likely going to forget.

On a personal level, "Mr. 3000" is going to go down in my memories as the best experience I have had on-set, out of the total four films I have been part of (at the writing of this entry). The food was excellent. The crew was remarkably friendly and patient. Some of the filming, though long and drawn out at times, has taught me a lot about the film industry, and I've really enjoyed being part of the production for this film. I have certainly been blessed to participate in this Hollywood venture. Thank you to everyone who made it happen.

I eagerly look forward to seeing it on the big screen in 2004!

Good luck in the future to everyone seriously involved with this film. Perhaps someday we will meet again, ...somewhere in this great pot of creativity we call film and television. I'll keep my eyes open.

God's blessings to you all!

Your happily blogging actor friend,
-Jon Baas

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"On the Set: Day Fourteen (14)"

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Fourteen.... Wednesday, July 30, 2003

After only about four hours of sleep, I awoke, grabbed my bus, and made my way to Miller Park for another night under the lights. It started to thunder a bit as I made my way there. Tonight would definitely be a rainy one.

After arriving, and during a small meal of sloppy joes, the rain finally began to fall outside. At one point, power even went out to the massive Miller Park. It wasn't anything too serious though. Five to ten minutes later it was back on again, and our holding area was once again bathed in light. It's not too often that you're in a massive domed sports stadium when the power goes out. It was an interesting experience to say the least.

Later, when we were sitting in the stands between takes for the first scene of the night, I mused at the snow falling around us. Of course it wasn't the typical wintery fluff, but rather hundreds of tiny knats driven indoors by the damp rain outside. As they flew aimlessly above us -- the powerful lights reflecting off their tiny wings -- they gave the impression of snow flurries.

It was definitely an attractive sight, but, unfortunately one largely overlooked by those more concerned with the irritant these tiny insects had become. I guess it was just one of those simple things I tend to take notice of. The effect only lasted some ten minutes or so before largely disappating. It was beautiful while it lasted though. And it certainly isn't something you see everyday.

Most of the day's filming events were again unfortunately slow and unexciting. Usually we would be moved to some in-shot area of the stadium, hang around there for some time while various shots were taken on the field, then be moved, and follow the same pattern. This did little for our restless minds, but was a blessing regarding the bonding of friendships. This being said, I decided to take the time to comment a little upon the few stronger friendships I have made while working on this film out at Miller Park this summer:

Dave is a fellow alum from my old college. With the exception of my freshman and perhaps sophomore year, he was before my time, so I hadn't really known him all that well while I was a student.

He and I happened to run into each other during one of the early "Mr. 3000" filming days, and, as a result of pure curiousity, met -- officially. We hit it off very well, finding a lot in common, and ended up hanging out together each night on the set. As a result of those many hours spent chatting, coming up with totally enjoyable sarcastic dialogue, and enjoying each other's company, I would consider him a very good friend. It's actually amazing how much of a friendship can be built when you hang out with someone 12 hours a day for two to three weeks! ....That's roughly 156 hours in which to get to know someone! ...Yeah, definitely a good friend!

An initial friend of Dave's from an earlier filming day, I found Danika to be a very intruiging character. In her early-to-mid twenties, she has a lot of energy, which makes her enjoyable company, both in terms of conversation, and pure personality. When I was first introduced to her, first impressions seemed to indicate that she was a very flamboyant, cheerful, and somewhat flirty person....

However, after sitting down and actually having a true discussion with her, I found her to be very intelligent, open, and an excellent conversationalist. She's also very outgoing, and that too makes her a very friendly person. Alhough I am very happy for her regarding her engagement, it is, in somewhat saddening too to know that we may end up parting ways after we complete our work on this film (She usually lives out in New York City, but is home visiting family this summer). I have enjoyed her friendship, though, and I wish her much luck in the future. :)

An initial friend of Dave's from one of my day's off from filming"Mr. 3000", Jessica, is also a very intruiging friend. Here too, a lot seems to be in common both with her and Dave, and her and myself. She's also a recent college grad, intelligent, witty, friendly, attractive, and always quick with a smile.

Now that filming for all of us is almost over though, and hanging out with her under the lights is soon to be a memory, I hope the friendship can continue beyond these walls of Miller Park. I like her. It would definitely be a shame to lose such a wonderful friend. Whatever may transpire, however, I appreciated the opportunity to get to know her. She's a lovely personality -- in more ways than one. :)

Another alum from my college, he graduated sometime before I started my freshman year, so we'd only met in passing. However, we met up again at the recent auditions for the Alumni stage production, and then, again, by surprise here at Miller Park.

The days he's been there, we've hung out quite a bit, getting to know each other, and sharing anecdotes of common aquantences. Though a couple years older than myself, he and I have a good deal in common, and I certainly wouldn't mind additional opportuities to continue to develop a friendship. Both he and I will be working together on the Alumni Production. That will be interesting. :)


Beyond those four friends though, I haven't really met and gotten to know many others in this film, beyond, passing aquaintences, or a working relationship (such as Bernie Mac or various members of the crew -- which still thrills me actually!).

But, you're probably bored with that stuff.... so, back to Wednesday. :)

Dinner was very good! ...Bar-BQ chicken breast, some of the best squash I've had in a long time, and some of the best mac and cheese I've ever tasted. Very good stuff. I tell you, I'm really getting spoiled eating there during filming. It may not be the juicy steaks or seafood that Bernie Mac is eating, but for plain simple me, I've been eating like a king these past few weeks! :)

Many hours later, however, after varied discussions among friends, the time came to sign out for the day. I always find it frustrating how fast the majority of the extras are in jumping up out of their seats and stampeding towards the check-out lines just to be first out of the stadium. Inevitably, though, the call always follows, "We're NOT done yet! Sit back down!"

So they grudingly do so. Another scene is shot, and when it wraps, they all jump up again, only to be told, "WE'RE NOT DONE YET!!"

Frustrating, yes. The four of us (Dave, James, Jessica, and myself) are old pros. Retaining our limbs and remaining at the back of the massive throng of people is much more preferencial than being somewhere in the middle, where, "Please form a line" seems to mean nothing.

I -- personally -- have enjoyed this acting opportunity immensely. I would definitely jump at the opportunity to do something like this again, no matter what the hours required would be. I've just gotten really annoyed by those whose motivations regarding being there are nothing more than to complain and collect "an easy paycheck."... That just brings down the rest of us who have different reasons for being there. And, I don't suppose the police officers that have been there the past two days to keep order, makes the whole situation any better either. .... [sigh].

Oh well, I certainly won't miss the majority who seem to have little respect for what the're doing here. But I will definitely miss the environment. I love 'playing pretend'. It's a great job. This is an opportunity I will look back on and think, "Yeah, I loved this so much, I'm glad I was part of it. What other field can I be a jack of all trades -- a doctor, a philospher, a master of lingusitics, a baseball fan, etc -- without really ever actually being them beyond the stage or the camera. Some people are born for creativity. I guess I'm just one of those people.

Ah Well, off to my last day on-set. I'll see you all upon my return. Have a blessed Thursday, and until later,

Your happily blogging actor friend,

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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

"On the Set: Day Thirteen (13): Perseverance and Thanks."

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Thirteen.... Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I arrived at Miller Park, Tuesday afternoon, for a 4pm call time. We'd been told to expect a "special" activity shortly after arrival, although we weren't told what it would be. When everyone had signed in, however, we discovered that it would actually be a few sound recordings, or 'wild lines' as they are called in the industry.

Honestly, that didn't really sound all that "special" to me, since I knew what that was, but I went with it anyway....

Basically, what these "wild lines" mean was that the sound crew wanted natural recordings of the crowd chanting the lyrics to "We will, we will, rock you...," by Queen. So, all 1000+ of us extras (yes, another BIG crowd) congregated just outside the stadium for the outdoor recording. We were actually directed by an unexpected musician -- Vernon Reid -- the lead guitarist for the '80's band, "Living Color." Apparently he's involved with the music and soundtrack composition on this film. Pretty cool!

After the recordings, and another of the same indoors (in the stands), we returned to the holding area and enjoyed a simple meal of hotdogs, chips, and potato salad.

I had come today, along with my sister (Rachel) who was excited for her second of two days working on set. This was my thirteenth. When she arrived, she joined me in my 'chosen spot' in the holding area -- the same 'spot' I reside in everyday when the talent isn't needed on-set. Shortly after I'd sat down, my friend Dave tracked me down, and he and Jessica, another friend he'd met last Thursday, joined us as well.

Not long later, James, the fellow college alumni (and recent auditionee) I'd hung out with on-set on Saturday, also stopped by.... He brought good news....

You know that college alumni theatre production I had auditioned for last Sunday (July 20)? Well, I got cast. I will be playing an easy-going husband on his second honeymoon, in New York City; 1965. He's a lead character in one of three cleverly-written one-act plays. It wasn't quite the streetwise thief role I'd been most interested in, but I certainly think I can have fun with this role nonetheless! Besides, it's an opportunity to be back on-stage again for the first time in about a year, and I'm definitely liking that. :)

But, anyway, I diverge....

After a little while longer playing the waiting game at Miller Park, we were eventually called back into the stands for filming. Scenes would vary, but I think my favorite would involve actor Paul Sorvino. In the film he plays the Brewers general manager. In this scene, he argues with the first base umpire and is ejected from the game. Very amusing to watch. Paul is an engaging actor. I can see why he was cast. Normally he plays gangster-like roles -- powerful and full of presense. Here he plays a tempermental Brewers coach, with a bit of an anger management problem. He plays the role very well. :)

After a few more scenes, and a few more takes, it was dinner time. Strangely, the entre of choice was the classic -- chicken. I find it amusing how often that seems to be served at these shoots. Don't get me wrong, I love chicken, and it's always been very good stuff. I guess it just amuses me how often it's part of the main entre. I chuckle every time. I must just be an easily amused kind of guy. My favorite meal so far, though, has been the tender beef cuts, but I like chicken too. :)

After dinner, more scenes were shot on the field, however, here's where the most interesting part of the night played out. At one point, a few hours before we would likely wrap for the morning, I was sitting, chatting with Jessica and Dave in the back row of the seating section we were assigned to. The shot was down, so we were just talking and joking as usual....

As I sat there chatting with my friends next to me, someone standing in the walkway behind me tapped me on my shoulder. Curious, I turned to find a young woman wearing a typical tag identifying her as one of the film crew. She addressed me by name (I had not met her before), shook my hand, and introduced herself as one of the crew for for the film. As it turned out, she was the Assistant to the Director, the director being Charles Stone III!

Such unexpected meetings. I was floored! The assistant to the director apparently even knew me! She mentioned that she had read my journal (weblog) entries of my time here on-set, and had really enjoyed them. She even noted her interest in eventually sharing them with Charles Stone himself. Yeah, the director of a Hollywood film was apparently even interested in my journal! How cool is that!

I was quite thrilled that now a second member of the film crew had made a point to track me down in person (in a crowd of 1000+ people), and compliment me on my writings. That made me feel good. What thrilled me even more was to learn that she was not at all that far different that myself -- just a determined young artist (screenwriter, in her case) working to pay the bills, and doing something she loved in the process. That impressed me greatly. She's definitely the kind of creative person I love to meet.

I had started out with this idea that, hey, I already have a well-read weblog, and I will be working fifteen days on the set of a Hollywood film as paid talent. I've done this film stuff before, but maybe this time it would be interesting to share my experiences with others. Not everyone gets to do this kind of work. So I began to do so. I didn't really expect the film crew to find it, and enjoy it so much. I guess I should count my blessings though, huh? What are the odds that this will ever happen again?!

Anyway, after Heather left, Jessica and Dave -- seated next to me -- seemed quite excited at the brief conversation that had just transpired. However, it was the reactions of the row of seats in front of me that surprised me even more. Apparently they (6 or 7 fellow extras, perhaps early to mid twenties) had overheard most of the conversation. When I turned around to face the field again, and they were all staring back at me, humorously in awe.

"So, how are you so famous?" one of the girls asked, quite curiously.

I paused a moment, not sure how to explain my sudden notoriety, and then slowly proceeded to tell them of my filming journal on my weblog. They seemed excited to check it out. So, I guess I now have a celebrity fan club! ... [chuckle]. :)

Needless-to-say, the remaining hours went by quite rapidly. Occasionally someone would comment about my weblog, or joke about my sudden popularity, but for the most part, the moment faded to memory. By the time we were let go and got through the check-out line (which, by the way, I was impressed to see was much more oranizated this evening), it was 6am Wednesday morning. It had been a long day, but hardly one to dampen my spirits. :)

Like Heather (the assistant to the director), I'm just a determined actor/artist trying to make a living at what I love most. Maybe, I am headed in the right direction. Maybe today's surprise events were just a little reminder to keep going. People do appreciate what I do, and sometimes they really are more than happy to go out of their way to thank you for it. :)

It's been a good day.... But now I must rest up for hopefully another one tomarrow. Have a blessed Wednesday everyone, and I'll catch with another entry on the marrow.

Your happily blogging actor friend,

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Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"On the Set: Day Twelve (12)"

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Twelve.... Monday, July 28, 2003

Today ended up being another slow day on-set. It also appeared to be another cold one. Of course, that did make sitting in the open-roofed Miller Park a wee bit uncomfortable most of the night. And then, stupid me, I didn't bring a jacket. But I survived. Luckily, my wardrobe for this film usually includes a long-sleeved button-front shirt with the sleeves rolled up.... I just rolled them down. :)

Filming most of the night varied enough that nothing really stuck out in my mind too much.

We did finally get to sit up in the highest level of the stadium, though -- deck four. And I will say this, though the view of the entire field was pretty good from up there, the seating incline was a little too steep for my tastes. Now I know why they're called the "nose-bleed" seats! But I suppose the big advantage to being seated up there is that I have now sat in pretty much every seating level of Miller Park while filming "Mr. 3000" -- Everything from the choice homeplate seats to the outfield bleachers, and now even the $1 nosebleed seats way up at the top of everything.

Pretty cool factoid, huh!? .... [grin].

My friend Dave was there today. So he and I hung out most of the night. Shortly after the first meal (not the big one), we met up with Danika. She's a friendly, though somewhat flirty friend we'd met on a previous night. Throughout the evening, the three of us enjoyed a combination of sarcastic and intelligent conversation. That kept the evening very entertaining, especially when there was little going on in front of the camera.

I did find it somewhat frustrating in the later hours of the shoot, though, to see the increasing disregard for crew instructions among most of my fellow extras. Granted it was very late in the shoot, but still, I felt proper respect was sadly ignored, and that shouldn't have been. Many of the 'extras' started obnoxiously singing old television theme songs, collectively chanting loud remarks to the effect of, "let's go home," mostly ignoring simple instructions (many to be silent or keep the noise down), and just being overly rowdy. I can only imagine the stress level of the crew as they tried to remain patient throughout. They kept their cool though, and I respect them greatly for their efforts.

By the time filming came to an end for us talent (unfortuantely the minority today), I once again became an unwitting witness to a massive stampede to sign out. Before long, it seemed to become a pushy mass of people all trying to be first to leave. I don't really know why most of the extras want to leave so fast every day.... yet then usually come back the next. This is one heck of an opportunity. Maybe I truely am part of a minority that's taking this seriously? It boggles my mind, really.

By the time I had returned home to my apartment, I was happy to have added another day of set experience to my resume, while also earning another paycheck "playing pretend".... But, I'm also also tired from another long, relatively uneventful day. Very soon, I'll finally be asleep, and then back at it preparing myself for another overnight shoot to begin eight in hours or so.

But that's the Hollywood acting biz for you. You just have to learn to have fun with it, and enjoy the oppotunities when they come around!

It's off to bed for me now, though. I'll catch you later tomarrow with another exciting recap from the set of "Mr. 3000". Have a blessed Tuesday, and until then,

Your happily blogging and rather tired actor friend,

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Monday, July 28, 2003

"On the Set: Day Eleven (11)"

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Eleven.... Saturday, July 26, 2003

Honestly, not a whole lot really happened on-set tonight.... My sister, Rachel, was scheduled to join me for filming, but she called in sick. As a result I went alone. Dave, the friend whom I'd met on-set previously also had the day off.

Not long after I arrived though, I did unexpectedly meet up with a former college alumni of mine, James, and we ended up hang out around set most of the evening. James is one of the alumni that auditioned with me recently for the upcoming alumni stage production at my college. He's a very interesting guy. He's in much the same boat I am in a lot of things, But he's a bit older than I am. He's 30, but despite the 7-year age difference, he and I seem to have a lot in common. We had many interesting conversations, some rather witty in nature, and enjoyed the opportunity to be reacquainted again after a few years. That made the evening a little more interesting.

It was actually quite a bit more like summer in the stadium this evening. The retractable roof was closed (for filming purposes) but the outfield sliding panels were open. Still, most of the time, there was no real breeze, and if there was, it wasn't very noticable. As a result sweat was a common issue, and a few hours into the evening it had become a little too warm for my tastes.

I did find the best place to stay cool though. Miller Park, is a convertable-roofed dome, so, when it's closed, there is a bit of a pressure difference. If you open one of the main entrance doors, and stand in the doorway, the rush of outside air in through the doorway is extremely refreshing! It was too bad that gusting air dissapated by the time it got to the stands where we were filming. :)

Most of the filming on the field this evening was a very interesting scene. Do you remember the old "hidden ball" trick in baseball? You know, the one where the ballplayer pretends to return the ball to the pitcher, and then returns to his respective base. When the opposing team's runner steps off the bag to lead off, BOOM, he's tagged out. Sly, mischevious, but oh so entertaining to watch! Obviously, this whole scene involved Stan Ross (Bernie Mac), the Brewer's first baseman in the film.

Unfortunately, though, as this scene is set on the 2004 Brewers (some time after Stan Ross returns to baseball in the film) you're going to have to wait until closer to the end of the movie to see it. Look for it though. It could be a fun scene. And, if you're lucky, you may catch me eagerly enjoying the pickoff play from the stands right behind first base. That's one of the numerous scenes I happen to be in-shot, down in the front row. Good times. Good times!

I find it interesting each time I'm at one of these filming days out here at the ballpark, there are a lot of rather attractive and often intelligent young women here. I make an effort to be friendly to everyone I meet, girl or guy, but often, meeting most of these intruiging women my age seems to elude me. It's a shame sometimes. I'm not at the filming to 'pick up chicks', but I do seem to have a pretty good intuition on those people whom I may get along well with. I do have a few days filming yet, maybe I'll still get to meet some of these people who have intruiged me somehow. Then again, maybe these acqaintences just aren't to be.

There were no new Hollywood aquaintences for me, though, this evening... (See previous post). Maybe Monday. We'll have to see. :)

Anyway, as you read, it was a rather slow shoot on my end. But I think I covered the most interesting parts of the night? We'll see what tomarrow brings. Take care, and until next time,

Your happily blogging actor friend,

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"On the Set: Day Ten (10): Meeting some Hollywood notables!"

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Ten.... Friday, July 25, 2003

After a suitably well-rested morning, I awoke, caught the bus out to Miller Park, and arrived in time to for my 5:30pm call. It was a warmer day, the sun already creeping towards the horizon. Judging by the temperature, though, it didn't seem like the chilly night on Wednesday would be repeated. That would certainly make things a little more comfortable.

After a small meal of cheeseburgers, the waiting game began again. Since I had my usual sketchbook with me, I decided to do a little drawing to keep me busy....

Interestingly, I've found that people seem to instinctively gravitate to an artist working in a public place. As I sat there, colored pencils in hand, people stopped by out of the blue, commented, and all seemed impressed with my work. It made me feel good to see that people appreciated what I do, even if I wasn't really working on a masterpiece. It always intruiges me the way people can become so easily impressed by the skills of others, especially if they don't possess those skills themselves. It's something I always enjoy musing upon. But, then again, I suppose that appreciation is what helps our culture thrive so.

After some time occupying myself with my drawings, the call finally rang out that we were needed on-set. The scene would be a tight shot of the action where Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) goes up into the stands and rudely grabs his 3000th hit ball from a young boy....

As it turned out, my specified seat location for that particular shot was right on the aisle, in the second row, right down by the Brewers dugout. In the film, after the ball is thrown into the stands by the injured pitcher (see previous posts - 1995 scene), Stan goes up that particular aisle to get it, rudely claiming it for his own personal collection. So, basically, Bernie Mac goes right up that aisle, and I got to -- once again -- get right in on the action.

Before the shot was up, Bernie's starting position was right beside me each time. So, as we all awaited the familiar order, "Rolling, and.... ACTION...", I stood there, listening to his friendly conversation with a woman right across the aisle (no doubt making her day!). Other takes, he cracked a few jokes with us, exchanged some witty banter with his personal makeup artist, and seemed to be enjoying interacting with those of us nearby.

What intruiged me the most, though, about interacting with him before each take, was that I got to see, right up close, the wheels turning in his head as he prepared for each take. I got to observe each time as he readied himself to assume the character of Stan Ross for that perticular scene. As an actor myself, it was a wonderful look at the preparation he does to take on -- at a moments notice -- whatever his required character needs had to be. It was a little thing, sure, but I think it impressed me the most,... even moreso than interacting with a "Hollywood celebrity".

Honestly, I probably wouldn't have minded the opportunity to interact with him longer, maybe even get into a discussion with him. Hearing him talk a little more about his own acting background would ahve intruiged me greatly. But, we were all on a Hollywood set, and it has to be mostly business while the cameras are around. There's just so much a young actor (such as myself) could learn from another more successful and well-known actor such as himself. I've said it before, and I'll happily say it again, Bernie seems like a nice guy. I'm sure he would be part of some wonderfully witty coversations!.... Perhaps someday I'll actually get that chance. Not today -- obviously -- but someday. ...[smile].

After a number of takes, and a few more close-up scenes with Bernie, the scene was wrapped, and the cameras and crew moved to the next location. As I stood there down in the first row of the stands -- right on the baseline -- a man from the production crew came up to me smiling.....

"Hey, are you the guy with the weblog," he asked out of the blue?

I was surprised, especially to hear that question asked by a member of the crew for film. "Oh, yeah, I maintain an online weblog," I replied curiously.

"Ah, well I read some of your entries about your work on this film," he commented smiling. "....I recognized you from the photo on your website... I actually enjoyed what you wrote. It was interesting to read the experiences of someone in front of the camera. It's not a perspective I get to see things from very often."

"Really," I replied, still a little surprised.

"Yeah. The girl in the production office told me about your weblog and said I should check it out." He extended his hand... "By the way, I'm Charles Papert , the head camera man."

I kept my surprise and appreciation largely in check. I had met Bernie Mac briefly only a short while earlier. And now the head camera man for the film had come up to me, having read my (online) daily film journal. I thought that was pretty impessive! I later checked for Charles' productions credits.... He's been the head camera man for a wide variety of television shows, from "The West Wing" to "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer", even to "ER". He's also operated the camera for such films as, "Crazy/Beautiful" with Kristin Dunst, and "Office Space". Notable, indeed! I only wished time had allowed a longer conversation. He struck me as a rather down-to-earth successful guy with a lot of experience and probably a lot of advice. Maybe I'll run into him again on set. I certainly wouldn't mind. :)

Later in the evening, things started to slow down from the excitement earlier. At one point things got a little interesting when a fellow extra took the opportunity a little downtime afforded, to climb up on the Brewers dugout and perform a few magic tricks for the rest of us. He was very good too. I get the impression he has a hobby as a professional entertainer. His 'act' was entertaining, and his tricks were quite good. Perhaps he'll have an 'encore performance' at one of the shoots yet to come? :)

Near the end of the shoot, and after a few more moves around the stadium, I ended up sitting next to another professional actor (used to be a school principal before retiring to pursue his dreams of acting). He had recently finished filming as the Donnie Brasco character in an upcoming HBO television film/feature based on the famous historical jewel thief by that name. It's due out sometime this fall, but unfortunately, as I don't have cable, I won't get to see it. It was nice to talk with him about the business though. He had a lot of good things to say.

It was especially interesting to chat with this man becasue he was a Christian too, and apparently lived in the Milwaukee area, filming a lot down in Chicago. During the conversation, he shared a number of comments and suggestions, which I happily took note of. I think I was particularly impressed, though, with the fact that he was a Christian and successful actor in film. It gave me a little more confidence in my own future goals. I doubt I'll get the chance to run into him again, but, nonetheless, it was certainly a joy chatting with him (his daughter as well).

By early morning on Satuday, we were let go. Overall, I had very interesting day on the set. I was tired, as usual, and when I arrived home, took a shower and went straight to bed. I slept the day away until I was to awake again for my Saturday call at 6:30.

Acting can be such a joy -- especially when you get to meet other professionals in the biz (such as Bernie Mac or Charles Papert)! Very few careers offer this much interaction with other creative individuals who've seen this much success. It makes me proud to call myself an actor.... it really does.

Well, I think that's all I'll write about tonight. Sleep is overcoming me. Take care, and until next time,

Your happily blogging actor friend,

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Friday, July 25, 2003

"Thursday: A Day off from filming."

Thursday I had the day off from filming for "Mr. 3000". It actually turned out to be a much-appreciated opportunity to relax a bit. And, honestly, not a whole lot happened, but, then again, that was the point of the day off in the first place. :)

I did spend a good part of my Thursday evening and Friday morning, though, upgrading my online store from just an afterthought to a an actual full-fledged store, courtesty of You can now purchase high quality art prints of my artwork, as well as other unique items born of my creativity. Framed prints are also available....

Currently, one of the featured prints is "Eagle", a graphite portrait of the endangered bald eagle. It took the top award in the 1999 Milwaukee County Zoological Society Endangered Animals Exhibit. Check it out. It's my favorite piece, and I thought I'd offer the opportunity for others to enjoy it as well. No sense in keeping it all to myself now is there! ... [chuckle].... Online Store (aka, my artwork)

The only other really cool thing about Thursday was the aquisition of a 'new' television. Granted it's not really new, rather, one of those older color 'knob models', but, my friend Scott, who has an eye for finding and 'fixing up' perfectly usable disgarded items, had found this one, along with another some time ago. Recently, he decided he needed to consolidate some of his things, and so he offered me the television. So, now, unexpectely, I have a small color rabbit-ears television in my room near my computer, addition to the entertainment center in the living room. Sweet! Now I'm defintely livin' the life!... Thanks Scott!

Well, I'd love to write more, but, unfortunately, my vacation day has come to an end. Time for bed, and then off to Miller Park for another exciting overnight on the set of "Mr. 3000"! Call is 5:30pm.

So, I'll see you all early Saturday morning with a recap of Friday (unless I go straight to bed).... Have a blessed Friday, and start to the weekend. See you on the flip-side of Friday!

Your happily blogging actor/ artist friend,

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Thursday, July 24, 2003

"On the Set: Day Nine (9)"

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Nine.... Wednesday, July 23, 2003

After eight hours of rest, I arrived at Miller Park for my 8:30pm call. I signed in and found a comfortable spot to sit in the holding area, awaiting the arrival of my friend.

When he arrived, we set out, and tracked down the food tent, surprised to find that few other extras in our call group had actually found it yet themselves. So, in relative solitude, we enjoyed a traditional Milwaukee sports meal of brats and sourkraut.... And I do love brats and sourkraut! It must be the German blood in me.

As planned, today was a home game for the real Milwaukee Brewers, only the first of two in July since the all-star break. (That's part of the reason the production staff selected Milwaukee... We had the most accomodating stadium available for filming). ....When we finally entered the stadium, the game was already in the top of the ninth -- Brewers 2, Houston Astros 1. We (paid talent) were seated in a section in the upper deck, rightfield side, and got to enjoy what was left of the game. In the end though, after extra innings -- eleven to be exact -- the Brew Crew lost 3-2.

During the game, I guess there was even a helicopter filming arial footage for the movie. With the roof open, they easily captured 22,493 fans, probably more than would normally show up for a Brewers home game. When the game ended, those fans were invited to remain for the filming, and given the chance -- once again -- at a number of nice prizes. Most of them did choose to stay, and almost filled up the lower deck stands between both dugouts.

When the fans that chose to leave had gone home, us talent were moved down into the lower deck stands to join the fans that stayed. When everyone was situated, the cameras rolled, and we got to see the entire 1995 3000th hit scene play out on the field uninterrupted. And, honestly, seeing that whole segment from the film play out in front of us, gave us both a complete glimpse the scene, as well as allowed the film crew to film long uninterrupted fan reactions to it. It felt much more real than disjoined filming we had done on earlier days. Plus, we actually had a full stadium this time.

After a few more takes of that segment, as well as the awarding of all the giveaway prizes, the fans who stayed were let go, and the only remaining extras were the 500 or so of us hired to be there. By, now, it was shortly after midnight.

Dinner came next. Country-style mashed potatoes, broiled chicken, squash, and so on. Once again, very good stuff. Granted -- as I've overheard -- it's not quite the sirloin steak and constant buffet the ballplayers or stars are eating down in the clubhouse. Sure, a sirloin steak does sound pretty good every so often, but I think I'd rather take the food we're getting up here. I'm pretty much a meat and potatoes guy. This stuff is good enough. Eating fancy has usually always been a rare treat for me.

....But then again, maybe I'm not your stereotypical actor (as the media seems to like showing). I'm an actor becasue I love it, not becasue of the money, or even the fame really. I'd probably enjoy mingling with the fans as much as Bernie does. Afterall, you gotta love what you do. If you do what you love, the money will follow, right?

By 1am, dinner was concluded and we ended up sitting around -- eventually in the rightfield bleachers. Strangely, it was cold in the stadium. Cold enough that a jacket would have been nice. The retractable roof was open, and an unusually cold summer breeze blew in. Isn't it supposed to be warm and muggy at night around here, especially in the dead of summer? I guess I'll just have to start taking a jacket with me on these overnight filming dates -- just in case.

As it turned out, all we did for the rest of the night was sit around waiting. Oddly, that seemed to be the activity of choice out on the field among the crew as well. For the next two hours or so, I never heard them say "Picture's Up", "Quiet on the set", or any of those commands that indicated anything being filmed. It was just quiet. I wondered what the slow-up was, but never really found out. Odds are, though, the crew was probably just reviewing footage, or more likely, filming footage in the clubhouse, locker rooms, or tunnels just outside of our view.

Sometime around 3:30am, the majority of us were let go for the night. We'd been scheduled to stay until at least 6am Thursday, but, they didn't need us on-set anymore. Fifty extras stayed beyond the rest of us. But I get the impression though, that not long after the majority of us left, the director probably called the night a wrap for everyone.

So, in the end, this Wednesday night shoot was an interesting one. I got to see a few innings of a game at Miller Park, had two meals provided, hung out with my fellow talent, got paid, and went home early. It had been a short night on set, only seven hours. Certainly not the typical 12-14 one would expect as normal. But, that was fine with me. I caught a ride home with my friend Dave, finished a few small projects, and went to bed mid-morning.

What a life huh?

Have a blessed Thursday.

Your happily blogging actor friend,

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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

"On the Set: Day Eight (8)"

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Eight.... Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I arrived on-set this afternoon, a little tired, but in time for my 4:30pm call. There were a lot fewer people waiting to sign in, so thankfully it appeared that today would not be another 1000+ extras day like yesterday. Honestly, that was a little insane, and a bit disorganized. But, smaller crowds I can certainly appreciate. Fewer people means a much less hectic shoot.

In true "Mr. 3000" fashion, a small meal awaited after I signed in. It only consisted of corndogs, baked beans, and so on, but was enough to tide me over until the larger dinner later in the evening.

Ironically, one of the nice things about those small meals at the start of an evening shoot though, are the doughnuts. It seems like ages since I last had my favorite -- that delicious raspberry jelly-filled pastry delight. Mmmm, good stuff! I'll have to be careful though, not to spoil my appetite. Dounuts are just fluff, the dinner is the real deal!

By 8:30pm, I was still sitting around, unused in any scenes. There were scenes filming, involving fans in the outfield bleachers, a pitcher getting hit by a batted ball, and presumably a homerun shot or two, but otherwise, it was still downtime for the majority of us.

Using this downtime, I decided to do something different for a change. To keep me occupied, I decided to do some writing. In fact, this very post is one of the fruits of that writing. I actually thought I'd write as-it-happens instead of in-recap once I return home. So far, I think it's proving to be an excellent diversion to boredom. It's worked out so well in fact, that, when given the chance, I think I'll actually write my remaining journals on set as well. It makes my journal task a little more involved, but a lot more interesting I think.

Another idea that came to mind along the lines of what to do with downtime, is to take my sketchbook with me onto the live areas of the set, and draw or sketch the activity I observe. As an artist, I enjoy drawing, so, what better time to take up pencil and paper, right?

By 9pm, the crew was now working exclusively on the scene in which Bernie Mac's character gets his oroginal 3000th hit. I was finally called onto the set, so I grabbed my notebook, sketchbook, and writing utensils and made my way out to where I was needed. Two hours later, after many takes of that "famous milestone hit", we were back in the holding area for dinner.

I actually found it amusing though to watch this particular scene play out over and over. Bernie Mac's character, Stan Ross, is a pompous egotistical ballplayer at the time of this milestone 3000th hit in 1995. For this hit, Stan taunts the pitcher, who, in turn fans him with a close pitch, knocking him down. Stan says a few words, gets up brushes himself off, and then lines the next pitch right into the pitcher, doubling him over in pain. As a result, that's how Stan Ross gets his 3000th hit. Pitiful. Very pitiful.

To top that off, the angered pitcher, now in pain on the pitchers mound, returns a few comments to Stan at first base, and, ignoring Stan's demand to have the now-famous baseball for his own personal collection, throws it into the stands behind firstbase. A young boy catches it, thrilled to have a peice of baseball history. Stan, however -- the egotistical jerk that he is (at this point in the movie) -- goes up into the stands, and snatches the ball away from the youngster.

Having reclaimed the now-famous baseball, and reached his milestone 3000 career hits, Stan Ross emediately retires from baseball -- mid-season -- leaving his teammates in a lurch after losing one of their most productive ballplayers.

But, don't worry, this scene plays out at the begining of the movie, and the plot for the rest of the film is Stan Ross coming back out of retirement in 2004 -- nine years later -- to reclaim three of those 3000 hits deemed inaccurate due to a statistical error. In the process, he rediscovers his love for the game of baseball, and trys to overcome his unsavory reputation from earlier career.

Seeing this 3000 hit scene play out over and over (the part on the field where the pitcher gets hit), makes me wonder what kind of bruises the actor/pitcher had at the end of the night. Obviously safety was an issue when the pitching machine fired the simulated line-drive at the him, but still, that's gotta hurt, especially when done dozens of times.

I don't think the crew has filmed the actual boy in the stands part yet, but I could be wrong. The whole scene is a very interesting one to watch in production though. It'll define the character of Stan Ross greatly in the movie. On-set, however, it's just intruiging to watch all the elements come together, and see how detailed the crew is in making all the peices fit just right.

By midnight, we've finished dinner, and things were slow again. I once again broke out the sketchbook, capturing some excellent unassuming gesure drawings of some of my fellow talent -- the girl reading off by herself against one of the massive steel beams supporting the stadium,.... the group of people chatting off in a corner.... etc. Fun times.

When we got back into the stands, an extra shouted a few witty (actually humorous) comments down to Berne Mac, who was leaning near the Brewers dugout during some downtime. Moments later, he said something funny in reply, and called the wide-eyed girl down onto the field, chatted with her a bit, and gave her an autograph! Now that, I though was cool of Bernie! Once again, he proved he's none other than a classy and thoughtful actor.

After a few more takes of the same scene above, but from a number of additional angles, the day was a wrap, and by 6am Wednesday we were let go for the day.

Later Wednesday, we will all be back though, and honestly, Wednesday evening's shoot should be another intersting one. There's an actual home game between the real Milwaukee Brewers and the Houston Astros. I'm not sure how they're going to film during an actual game (since filming has to take second to the game), but, I've heard it'll mostly be crowd reaction shots throughout the night, and then afterwards, more specific on-field shooting. We'll have to see I guess.

The cool part is, I'll get to go to my first Brewers game at Miller Park.... for free! The production crew is buying tickets for a section of the stadium, and giving them to us -- the paid talent -- to fill. Odds are, we'll move around among the real fans a bit as needed, but we'll get to watch the game, as well as 'do our thing' later in the morning.

But, for now, however, call is at 8:30pm, and I've gotta grab a shower, get ready, and catch my bus. I'll be back early Thursday morning to tell you all about the shoot, I promise. Stay tuned! Until then, have a blessed evening.

Your happily blogging actor friend,

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Tuesday, July 22, 2003

"On the Set: Day Seven (7)"

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Seven.... Monday, July 21, 2003

No matter what you may hear, work within the movie business is not glamourous. Even if popular culture makes it look that way. Trust me, popular culture lies. You gotta experience it and make your own decisions. I know -- been there; done that.

That said, today was another long night on the set of "Mr. 3000". It started out fast, but then seemed to slow to a crawl. By hour thirteen, I was begining to feel the need for sleep again. My eyelids were heavy, and I was having a hard time trying to stay awake. It had been a monotonous, interesting, but thoroughly tiring day.

But, hey, I had fun, and even minus the glamour, I do greatly enjoy what I do. Call me odd if you will, but I've had a severe case of the acting bug for years now. It's nice to be able to publically toil in it once again. :)

My sister, Rachel, had managed to be called for the day. So today, she, my friend Dave (whom I have been hanging around on-set with for the past week or so), and myself hung out during the downtime. When the shots were down, we chatted, joked, and of course enjoyed each others sarcastic. So far, she hasn't been called back on-set until sometime next week, but it was nice talking with her about acting stuff (she's an actor too), and just enjoying her company in an acting setting.

Unfortunately Rachel wasn't the only person to join me on set, so did 750 additional paid extras. Usually there have been a maximum of 250 of us on any given day so far. However, today there were at least 1000 total extras present. And you can imagine the madhouse filming became at times.

I won't go into my complaints regarding the presence of those additional new less-than-professional bodies on-set. I'm sure you already know my frustrations with that.... Again, very few of them knew anything about acting whatsoever. That annoyed me, greatly. I crave working with the actors, the ones who challenge, aim to grow, and desire to learn. Some complaining kid who was off the street, and just there for the easy money, really grates on me.

But hey, that's what the production company wanted -- fans in the stands (and other roles). I guess that's what they got. [sigh].

I did however meet some rather interesting people today, who certainly didn't fit into that 'off-the-street' mold, and I appreciate that. I met a youthful newly-wed couple struggling to earn a little more income to pay the bills. I see some success for them in that regard. I also met a few elderly or retired people who had little better to do, and seemed to be having a blast at the ballpark!. And I come across a number of respectful, intelligent, and sometimes wide-eyed people there to just experience some time on a Hollywood set, which I thought was an admirable reason. And thanfully there were even a few more actor people whose intelligent conversation and wonderful musings once again reminded me why I choose to put up with the challenges of this craft.

As it turned out today, in terms of filming, most of the scenes were set in the 1995 Milwaukee Brewers baseball season (near the begining of the movie). What was filmed today helps set up the rest of the film.

I found it interesting though, as I watched and participated, to note the distinct differences in uniforms between the years 1995 and our present day, 2003. I had not realized it, but there have been a lot of changes in uniform design over the last 8-9 years. Not to mention that in the present day, the Brewers are a National League team, playing out of the new Miller Park baseball stadium. In 1995, they were an American League team, playing out of Milwaukee County Stadium.

So, obviously with County Stadium torn down, the 1995 scenes had to take place in Miller Park. So, you'll have to suspend your historical mindset, the movie is forced to take a slightly revisionist standpoint towards history. But then again, maybe digital editing will play a bit part, I'm not sure. Either way, the uniforms were accurate. That caught my attention. The costumer for this film should be congratulated. He did his homework.

But, all-in-all, the day back on-set, wasn't a whole lot different than most of my previous six. It was, as always, an experience I can't often fully describe in words. I'm an actor. I love to play pretend. It just so happens that "Mr. 3000" affords me that very opportunity.

Hollywood isn't always glamourous. It's a lot of work, long hours, and sometimes less than savory collueges, but, passion for the craft shouldn't be denied. it can lead to greater things. Care to follow along as I try to test that theory? :)

Well, I'm tired. I think I going to head off to bed. Have a blessed Wednesday. Until the marrow,

Your happily blogging actor friend,

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Monday, July 21, 2003

"The Weekend: A Night-Owl Vacation"

This weekend was a relatively uneventful one, but that I appreciated greatly. Saturday and Sunday were my days off from filming in "Mr. 3000" out at Miller Park. I decided both days would be days of relaxation and very little stressful activity, and honestly I think the vacation did me good. It allowed me to reset my energy level and prepare for another full week of long days on the set.

Since my remaining nine days/nights scheduled on-set will likely be overnight shoots, I have remained in my present sleep rotation -- sleeping during day hours, waking during the night. I figure by remaining in this schedule, even on vacation days, I'll be able to more easily stay awake while I am sitting around Miller Park.

So, aside from those planned bum activities this weekend, the only real event of note was auditions Sunday evening for the upcoming Alumni theatre production at my college. Noting the convenience of these auditions, I walked down to my old campus, and auditioned, and had a lot of fun in the process. We'll see how well I did in a few days. :)

With this audition, I find I rather miss the stage actually. Since graduation in spring 2002, my energies have been focused towards work at Barnes and Noble (of which I am thankfully no longer employed at), my artwork and commissioned projects, and film acting opportunities and/or auditions. My last stage role was my last college production. I'm really itching to get back on the stage again. Afterall, once the theatre bug bites, it's near impossible to totally remove the symptoms. Acting is already in the blood. :)

So, I now sit here typing this at 5:45am Monday morning. I yawn, signifying to myself that it has become time for bed. When I awake, I'll be off to Miller Park for a 5pm call time.... Ah, the joys of working in the movies!

Take care all, and I'll be on again soon with a recap of my Monday night on-set.

Have a blessed new week, and until later,

Your happily blogging actor friend,

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Saturday, July 19, 2003

"On the Set: Day Six (6): En-masse!"

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Six.... Friday, July 18, 2003

Friday was perhaps the most exciting day for me on-set so far, and for a number of reasons. It was another all-night shoot, but also a HUGE event, involving 25,000 unpaid volunteer extras. This was in addition to those of us that were hired, and had been on-set extensively already.

It actually felt much like an actual gameday to be honest. For most of the evening, us talent got to sit in some pretty nice seats in the stadium, apart from the thousands of "Brewer fans". For the first time, 200 people and countless cardboard cutouts were no longer filling up the stadium -- now 25,000 real live people were, each sitting shoulder to shoulder. Considering the scope of this project, that was pretty impressive!

My call to show up was at 4pm. I had gotten about six hours of sleep after a long, slow twelve hour overnight only a few hours before. I had been told -- becasue of the additional unpaid thousands likely to show up -- to proceed to the regular talent sign-in area, but not to expect dinner. I expected just a waiting area, unlike other days. So, as suggested, I brought some snack-like food with me to last me through the night. However, lo and behold, when I checked in and got my paperwork, I was surprised to see that once again a dinner was served, though this time just hamburgers and fries. I didn't mind; that was certainly more than I had brought.

After our bodies were unexpectedly fed, we were all broken down into our assigned casting groups and taken to the first seating location for the night -- the excellent-view lower deck 'Beerpen' seats directly above the wall in right field. From this vantage point we sat for some time, watching across the field as the thousands of general extras filed into the upper and lower deck seats behind first, third and home plate. Throughout the next hour or so, they just kept coming! When all was said and done, the infield seats were nearly full! You rarely see that at a Brewer game these days.

The energy in Miller Park seemed to just hang in the air for a few hours, and the excitement of 25,000 fans reverberated off the beams of the closed dome. The thrill level was high, and the anticipation of twenty-five thousand people waiting to see Bernie Mac seemed to grow as more and more fans arrived in the stands. When Mac did finally walk onto the field -- from the Brewers dugout -- the stadium errupted in a deafening roar of applause. Mac, in true form, went over and shook a few hands, said a few words, grinned widely, and probably even cracked a few jokes. He seemed to be loving the turnout!

When picture was up, we did another few crowd-oriented takes of Stan Ross's retirement speech (that we'd worked on a few days prior in other shots) and then Bernie departed to don his Brewers uniform.

While he was gone, and the next shots were being set up, two 'entertainers' revved up the throng of fans, and providing what I thought was less then humorous entertainment. Throughout the day expensive prizes were given away to the unpaid fans -- everything from digital cameras, palm pilots, an autographed Brewers jersey worn my Bernie Mac on a previous day of filming, televisions, and the top prize, a PT Cruiser (which ironically, I heard had been won by a ten-year-old kid at the end of the night. Heh. Go figure.).

Later, after Bernie returned to the field and further crowd-oriented scenes were completed, all of us paid talent were moved up into the third level of seating in Miller Park -- the luxurious Club Level. Now when I say there were previous seats that passed as the best in the house, that was BEFORE we arrived here on the Club Level!....

Here the 'concourse' was carpeted, there was an attractive lounge and hardwood bar area, massive glass windows looking out over the expansive parking lots with attractive views outside the stadium, and large high-quality black and white framed prints of all the Major League Baseball stadiums -- including many of the old classic ones -- lining the walls. The luxury skyboxes were also on this level, and, with the doors opening onto the carpeted concourse, the whole stadium level resembled that of a classy hotel. Stadium attendants were even posted at the glass-door entrances, restricting access to those who did not belong. This was definitely luxury to the Nth degree. A little bit outside of my price range, but nonetheless very attractive!

We actually ended up sitting outside the concourse area, in the stadium-style seats -- just in front of the luxurious skyboxes. These were -- by far -- the best seats in the entire stadium! I suppose that explains why they were on the luxury level too, huh.... There wasn't a single part of the field obscured by anything. If that level of the stadium wasn't so expensive, you could guess where I'd be sitting for a Brewers game!

Later, as an amusing occurance while we were seated in those fine seats, there was some downtime as another scene was being set up down on the field. So the stadium "jumbo-tron" camera was panning the crowd thousands. It just so happened, that I was sitting next to one of those cardboard cutouts -- a female one. So, just for the fun of it, I put my arm around her cardboard shoulders and sat there comfortably taking in the aura of the stadium. It was while I sat there like that -- my arm around my cardboard companion -- that the camera caught the 'intimate' unrehearsed moment. Suddenly, I was inadvertantly entertaining the crowd up on the massive stadium scoreboard. Heh. I guess that's certainly one way to get recognized at a ballgame -- act natural and have a cardboard girlfriend.

Anyway, after another move, and a little more waiting and watching, we were let go for a late evening dinner. Again, I wasn't to be fed, as we had been told not to. I had thought the hamburgers were our meal. But, upon reentering the holding tent, there was more food. This time, it was literally a Thanksgiving dinner! Sliced turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberries, even the pumpkin pie! The catering service definitely outdid themselves yet again! And, once again, it was delicious meal! And it hit the spot, providing me with additional energy to perform in my role for the rest of the night.

A few more crowd-oriented scenes later, a little too much annoying 'humor' from the main 'entertainer', and the day was a wrap. The prizes all the way from the palm pilots to that beautiful maroon PT-Cruiser had also been given away, and the thousands of people started streaming out of Miller Park. It was 4am Saturday morning. We'd been there all night again -- 12 hours.

No one ever said the movie business was glamourous.

Luckily, however, I have Saturday and Sunday off from filming. I can spend those days relaxing and catching up on projects and sleep. I'll probably need it too. I've been up now for 24 hours straight. I've only gotten six hours of sleep in the last 38 hours. I think I'm overdue.

Ah, but there really is no arguing, I love the acting biz. There's always a new challenge to overcome. In this case -- sleep.

But, before I go, you might want to check out the following latest news stories about the filming at Miller Park:

Today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal Online: Filming of "Mr. 3000", Friday, July 18th.

You may also want to check out the Friday news video clip from the Milwaukee NBC affiliate. (Realplayer required). It takes a brief look at the July 18th overnight filming, but from the point of view of the 25,000 fans that showed up. Typical news stuff, but it gives another look at the evening.

Enjoy! I'm off to bed. Until later,

Your happily blogging, but very tired actor friend,

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"On the Set: Day Five (5): The Flat Ones."

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Five.... Thursday, July 17, 2003

Thursday was a pretty good night on the set of "Mr. 3000". It was slated to be an all-night overnight shoot, and that it was. My scheduled call was at 6pm. I eventually would go home twelve hours later at 6am Friday morning.

I did my regular routine, getting as much sleep as possible (though lately, usually always less than I'd like) and hopping a bus down to Miller Park, arriving with time to spare.

I tried something different though, and found a shortcut, for part of the trip. This walk, a few blocks from my bus stop to the Park, took me right past Haelfer Field, a Little League ballpark, built right next to the new Miller Park. The intruiging thing about this little ballpark though is that it's using the very spot that used to be the infield of old Milwaukee County Stadium -- the original home of the Milwaukee Brewers. As I walked past, I couldn't help but think of the irony of this acting opportunity I am currently enjoying....

On September 9, 1992, when I was twelve years old, I was in attendance at the old County Stadium, to watch my hero, the 'legendary' Milwaukee Brewers hall-of-fame ballplayer, Robin Yount, get his 3000th career hit. I was thrilled back then, and I will always remember that day. My dad and I rushed to the game, already a few innings late, but by sheer luck just in time to see that famous hit in the bottom of the seventh inning. That was one of the most thrilling moments of my childhood, and it's firmly imprinted on my mind.

Now, today, Thursday, as I walked past that little league stadium, located on the very spot that that charmingly tin can-like Major League ballpark had once stood, I recalled those memories. Then it occurred to me, as a kid I was excited to see my favorite ballplayer reach that rare milestone.... Little did I know then, eleven years later I would be a dedicated part of a Hollywood film, set in that tin can's beautiful successor, and featuring a ficticious Milwaukee Brewer striving to hit his own 3000th hit! It's an opportunity dripping with irony, but man, what an opportunity!

Still smiling from my ironic realization, I arrived at my assigned entrance to Miller Park, signed in, and prepared for another long, drawn out, but thoroughly exciting night shoot.

I was intruiged, as I sat in there in the stands, among my flat people (shown in the accompanying image above), to observe and muse upon a few unsual events unfolding before me:

1.) The "steady-cam" is one cool piece of film-making equipment!

2.) A friend to chat and muse with makes the time go faster, and, can often be quite interesting -- with a healthy dose of sarcasm. ...Let me just say, that poor baseball player/actor portraying the pitcher of the Houston Astros in many of the scenes we were shooting, was having his character created for him by my friend and I. If only he knew the backstory we were creating for him between takes!.... Poor guy.... :)

3.) Cheering repetitively and engaging in short bursts of genuine excitement can be exhausting. Thank goodness one of the characters I created for myself was a fan of the opposing team -- the Houston Astros -- and NOT the Milwaukee Brewers! That Stan Ross (Brewers protagonist - Bernie Mac) was "hitting" way too many hits and homeruns with each take. I saved myself a heck of a lot of energy by staying seated each time he got his 2998th hit. Whew!

4.) Flat people (generic 'seat-filler' cardboard cutouts that can double as fans sitting in the stands of sports stadiums), are nearly indistinguishable from live fans sitting near them. Up close they clearly look like multiple copies of 12 different cutouts, but from a distance, and mixed in with live fans, they look just like everyone else. You end up having a veyr hard time distinguising the two.

Oh, yeah, and those cardboarf baseball fans are extremely loyal fans, rarely saying anything, and they're more than happy just to sit around doing nothing all day! Funny thing is, they're also usually much more behaved than many of the rude extras. It makes me wonder how much some of those younger off-the-street people (making rude uncalled-for and amaturish remarks) could actually learn from these loyal flat friends of mine?.... Yeah, I know, think about it for a moment. ...[sarcastic wink].

5.) And lastly, did I say how nice of a guy Bernie Mac seems to be? No? Hmm, well, he seems to be a rather likable person in real life. I may just have to make a point of seeing more of his work film and television work once this movie is over. Working with him has helped build in me an even better impression of the guy.

Anyway, later in the morning, as I sat further observing, musing, acting, pretending, preparing.... -- all that cool actor stuff -- I noticed another intruiging picture playing out before me. As I was sitting up a few rows behind home plate, for whatever scene was being shot, I noticed the ficticious baseball ballplayers just hanging around on the field.... Here were a few college baseball player-actors dressed up from head to toe as professional baseball players, running around the infield not tossing a baseball around, as you'd expect, but, rather, tossing deep passes to each other with a football! It was an amusing picture to say the least, and one I'll probably never see it quite like this again, but it was fun to watch nonetheless. I get the impression, though, that many of these guys are (or were) multi-sport athletes in college. Some of them probably played college or semi-pro football too.

Finally, later, when the long twelve hour day had been wrapped, and my acting wages earned for the day, I departed for home. Unfortunately, I would be in for only six hours of sleep, if I was lucky, before returning to Miller Park for another exciting all-night shoot. My call was later in the day on Friday, at 4pm.


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Thursday, July 17, 2003

"On the Set: Day Four (4)"

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Four.... Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Today actually ended up being a shorter day on-set -- shorter, at least as far as filming a Hollywood movie goes. Normally a day of shooting lasts 12 hours on average. Today I was only there for eight.

There was actually a group of people called earlier than myself, starting at 1pm. I, however was in the 6pm group. After having heard how much inactivity the 1pm group saw, I was inwardly glad that I arrived later for the bulk of the activity. Things were slow, but bearable while I was there. But, then again, I suppose I'm not a good gage of what bearable is anyway.... Patience just seems to be a strong suit with me.

When I arrived at Miller Park, I was just in time for dinner at 7pm. Good food again, this time chicken breast. I made a point of stopping one of the cooks and complimenting him (and his fellow staff) on the exceptional food we'd been served the past four days. He seemed genuinely impressed that someone bothered to do so. Oddly, I guess few of the other extras even bothered to thank him for the delicious FREE food they were enjoying. I appreciated the cook's jovial response, but I was also a bit saddened at how outwardly ungrateful some of the other extras seemed to be. To me, thanks seemed appropriate. How hard is it, really, to be thankful for all the hard work the production staff and crew are doing to make our involvement all the more comfortable? I don't know, that just seemed really odd to me.

So far, during filming, some of the extras regularly complain at the boredom of the shoots. Others, heckle the actors and crew, sometimes not in a kind-hearted way. Some make lewd remarks at the looks or mannerisms of others present, and a good deal of the younger lewd/rude teens don't conduct themselves in a manner speaking professionalism of their roles in this film.

I sympathize with some of the crew. I can see their frustration with some of these people. I'm just waiting for the day these rude extras are removed from the set, permanently. Bad behavior like that is uncalled for, and certainly warrents their removal from the set. Honestly, I couldn't care less to see them go. Some people are trying to take this opportunity seriously and have fun with it.

So, upon my frustrating observations, I find that I can split all of us into two sub-groupings. There are those who are off-the-street and clearly acting unproffesional -- just there "for the easy money", as I often hear them say. And then, there are the actual "background talent" who are moreso there to learn, experience time spent on a movie set, make a little extra income, and conduct ourselves with a degree of professional pride. Personally, I'd rather work more with the rest of my fellow background talent. Many of us seem to have a certain kinship, as we all have acting talent and experience to varying degrees. Those are the kind of people you'd rather have on the set.

But anyway, frustrations out of the way, after an unexpected dinner (I had thought dinner would have been served by the time my group was called), we sat around for a bit as a number of batting practice scenes were shot, and then we were called out into the stands behind homeplate (excellent field seats, I might add) for a number of shots of the protagonist striking out.

When those shots were completed -- after a few hours of set-up and additional takes -- the day was a wrap. The crew and 1pm group had been there for thirteen and a half hours. For them, it have been a very long day. By 2:30am Thursday morning, we were let go for the night. We turned in our paperwork, and departed into the darkness for home.

Unfortuantely for me, as it was late in the night, the city busses no longer ran. Lucky me. As a result, I got to walk home fifty blocks through the earily quiet streets of Milwaukee at 3am in the morning. Alhough I had never walked that part of town at night before, it did end up being a cool, slightly breezy walk, and I soon grew more comfortable with the quiet surroundings. I appreciated the comfortable temperatures. I like to take walks at in the seren evening hours, and honestly, this was the perfect time to enjoy one.

By 4am, I was home, safe and sound, but quite tired from my 50-block trek. I appreciated the walk, but maybe next time I'll inquire about stowing my bike somewhere in the Park while filming. Fifty blocks goes by a lot faster by bike! :)

Well, anyway, Thursday is past now, and it's time to I prepare for another overnight shoot into Friday morning. Have a blessed day, and I'll catch you all on the flip-side.

Your happily blogging actor friend,

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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

"On the Set: Day Three (3)"

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Three.... Tuesday July 15, 2003

Today was a nice rebound from the long drawn out day that Monday had been. Things actually went by much more rapidly.

I arrived for a 7am call again, signed in for the day, and made my way into the holding area inside the stadium. I was one of the first people there for the day, and -- apparently -- one of the first to get breakfast. They had served breakfast the previous two days as well, but I hadn't really payed much attention. So, today, I took the opportunity, and grabbed some cheesy scrambled eggs, sausage links, orange juice, etc. It was a very good breakfast, and a great way to start off the day.

Not long after breakfast concluded, and all of us scheduled to report today had showed up, we were taken into the stands and began filming. The first scene must have been a day shot, becasue when I looked up, the massive Miller Park 'butterfly dome' was sliding open, and the sun began to pour onto the field. I'd never personally witnessed the dome opening before, so that in itself was a truely awesome experience.

Of course, with the sun now replacing the lights from the closed dome, the heat rose some, and out came the sunscreen. It was still morning, but with a beautiful sunny day outside, the rays from the sun did their part to bake those of us now exposed. That was a little uncomfortable for a while, but it's all part of the job. Despite the complaints I heard from those around me, in my opinion, a little hot sun only helps create a more authentic fan experience. It made sense to me. I was happy to oblige, though, I will admit, probably sweating a little longer than I would have liked.

Before long the scene was wrapped, and we were moved elsewhere. When we came back into the stands, the roof was closed again, and the stage from the retirement scene from Tuesday, was being set up again. Yay, that must be a really important scene.

It wasn't so bad though. I guess they needed some additional footage beyond what had been shot yesterday. But this time, we got to move around a lot more, getting some pretty good views from different seats in Miller Park. I'll be honest, my favorite was from the seats up in the outfield bleachers, just to the right of the massive scoreboard. Man, those are some great seats! We had a birds-eye view of the field and the filming action near second base. Of course, when am I ever going to the chance to sit in those seats during a game, though?! I just happened to be located right by the railing at the top of the section.... Man, GREAT view!

After while, and to my surprise at the steady movement of the clock, it was lunch time. Again, it was delicious. This time it was fried chicken, buttery mashed potatoes, shell pasta and sauce, peas, salads, garlic toast, beverages, and to top it all off, apple pie and ice cream! I tell ya, the production outdid themselves once again. I was essentially another free meal, provided for those of us involved in the film. Hey, Hollywood has the funds, right? If you get in on the right opportunity, I guess they treat you well. :)

After we all ate, and a few moves later, we ended up being located directly above the outfield wall for a homerun scene. One of Bernie Mac's teammates, played by Brian J. White (who I guess is a pretty good ballplayer in real life), was the featured 'hitter'. We were the crowd reaction shot out in dead center field. I found myself right on one of the wedges of the outfield concourse that jutted out over centerfield a short way. The roof opened again and the late afternoon sun shone down on the field, casting dramatic shadows across the stadium interior. From that vantage point, there was no place in the stadium I could not see. And, honestly, of all the places I'd been seated in Miller Park during filming, this one has surpassed them all!

In terms of the crowd filming for that centerfield scene, the homerun that was hit was actually a shallow flyball to the San Francisco Giants "player" in left field. He caught it easily, but through the magic of the movies, you'll think it was a deep homerun shot. Of course you'd never know that by just watching the film, would you? It was certainly a nice hit by Brian White, I'll give him that, but not quite far enough to look as good as it will in the film. It was caught easily -- normally for an out -- but we cheered wildly as if it was long gone!

After that scene, a few more moves, and a number of on-field shots of Brian actually rounding the bases for the homerun, the day was a wrap. By the time we all signed out, I'd clocked nearly a thirteen hour day on set. I set out, caught a bus, and was home not long after. In a rare occurance while filming this movie, I'll actually have plenty of time to make dinner, eat it, relax while watching a little tv, and then get ten hours of sleep, and then six more hours of free time before needing to return for a 6pm call on Wednesday. That probably won't happen again for quite a while.

Hey, that's fine with me. I'm getting payed to do what I enjoy most, and even if most of my fellow 'off-the-street' extras don't seem to have a single acting bone in their bodies, I'm planning to make the most of this acting opportunity. And I've even been going so far as to develop distinct characters for each scene. I certainly don't have to, but why not, right? Afterall, I am on stage and in front of the camera.... This is acting. It's all about being someone else and helping to tell a story in the process. I'm more than happy to play my part, whether I actually have lines, or not. It's my job. It's what I actually like to do.

Oh, and incidently, now that I remember, I may have gained two more days on-set. That would bring me up to fifteen total days that I have been hired for. One of those days, this Friday, will involve at least 20,000 additional volunteer extras -- after an actual Brewers game. That should be interesting. I am still waiting on official confirmation, but, I should hear sometime tomarrow for certain.

For now however, I think I'll sign off. I've got two more hours of free time to take care of a few things, before returning to the set for an overnight shoot.

Take care all, and I'll see you upon my return. :)

Your happily blogging actor friend,

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Tuesday, July 15, 2003

"On the Set: Day Two (2)"

Filming for "Mr. 3000" -- Day Two.... Monday July 14, 2003

Ah, the things I do for my craft. Some may say it's insane to sit around in an empy ballpark and pretend to enjoy a baseball game the doesn't exist. Others may think me crazy to actually want to do this, but the truth is, they're all right. I am insane. I am crazy. But I am also an actor.... Insanity is really just part of the job.

So, day two, working on the set of "Mr. 3000" is now behind me. Overall, it was a slow, plodding day, much moreso than day one. But I did find ways to have fun, and stay awake.

Thankfully, since I had a 7am call time, taking the bus out to Miller Park made the fifty block trip a breeze. I got there with plenty of time to spare; and no long walk this time!

Unfortunately, as it turned out, my early arrival didn't make much of a difference. I still sat around for the first five hours. The production crew filmed one scene from many different angles, but didn't need everyone in the shot. I just happened to be one of the people they didn't need. So, I sat around, prepared (as any good actor should), played solitaire, read a little, and, get this, even got in a short nap! And, I still got payed for all that 'work'. Heh. Granted, filming in a movie is certainly not always this laxidaisical, but hey, I certainly won't complain when it does happen this way!

Finally -- five hours or so into the day -- I was needed. So I grabbed my props, headed down to the field, and joined the fun. Unfortunately, they were still filming the same scene -- the on-field MLB retirement ceremony of the protagonist (Bernie Mac's character). This time, though they were still grabbing different angles and takes of the scene, and I found myself in most of them.

By the time 7pm rolled around, they had finally wrapped the scene. It just so happened it was the ONLY scene they had worked on for the past twelve hours (with the exception of small crowd reaction shot). It ended up making for a very, very long day. Interesting... but long.

They did -- once again -- feed us very well for lunch.... juicy beef, seasoned potatoes, salad, vegetables, pasta and sauce, cake, multiple beverage choices, etc. A lot of planning seems to have gone into the production of this film. All of us, from Bernie Mac down to the various extras, have been very well treated, and the production crew seems very dedicated to the well-being of everyone, no matter who they are.

Honestly, with each film that I am part of, the production effort seems to get better and better. Of course too, that could just be my own unique experiences, but who knows. I'm sure there are disgruntled workers in the film (beyond some of the inexperienced, perpetually complaining, off-the-street extras), but overall, they seem to be hiding.

It was interesting today though to see the 'stars' in action. Bernie Mac again made a point of stopping by the rest of us, shaking hands, chatting, cracking jokes(!), and generally inquiring about our well-being. He didn't have to do that, but he seemed to want to. I'm really starting to appreciate that guy. He really is a class act.

Another star in this film is Chris Noth, a Madison, Wisconsin native. (He is perhaps most recognized for his role as Mr. Big in the cable series, "Sex in the City".) Today, on set, he took to tossing the ball around on the field with the crew when filming was down, and while shots were being set up. As a result, he ended up entertaining the rest of us -- cheers, boos, and all! He seemed to enjoy the attention too, quite often playing along. He seems to be another friendly guy, although, perhaps a tad bit out of shape when it comes to playing baseball. He plays a non-ballplayer role in the movie though, so, I suppose he's ok in that regard. ...[chuckle].

When the day finally came to a close, and we were let go for the day, a lot of tired, exhaused, and (in some cases other than my own) annoyed extras set off for home. For myself, it was a short bus ride, a few errands along the way, a small -- late -- dinner, and then bed. Seven hours later, I'd be on-set again for another full day of filming.


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Sunday, July 13, 2003

"Less the role, and more the less."

Well, the decision is final, and though it disappoints me some that it must be this way, I have voluntarily given up my role in the independant film, "Bound to Come Around" ("BTCA"), for reasons of time conflict. In exchange, I opt for the surer thing with "Mr. 3000", and two days of additional filming on Monday and Tuesday....

What this means is that I must remove my small unpaid role in "BTCA" from my resume (since I have not yet done any work for it), and I stick with the remaining thirteen days in "Mr. 3000", for which I am paid. It's a bummer really, but such is the way of things sometimes. Unfortunately, my filming dates just became an issue of conflicting opportunities, in what was a wonderful project drawn out a little too long in the making.

Chalk it up to experience I suppose. I just gotta go with the better deal.

I do feel bad though, not only for myself losing a small, but interesting speaking role in a film I was strongly dedicated to, but also for those in the production end of "BTCA".... It's been a long drawn-out, and sometimes trying learning experience for them all. I think they pulled through though. They deserve a heck of a lot more credit than one might think!

The good thing is, I've heard filming for them is supposed to wrap by the end of next week. That means the biggest challenge comes to a close. The end is in sight, and a quaint romantic comedy grows all the more close. I look forward to seeing the final product!

As for me now though, as much as I may hate to sign off this early in the evening, my ticket is up for tomarrow. I have a 7am call time for "Mr. 3000" filming, and then a full twelve hour day on the set. Long and slow, but still proven to be an immense opportunity for fun!

So, off to bed I must go. I'll be back online tomarrow evening though, and I'll be sure to write all about day two of my filming in a major Hollywood film!

Have a blessed evening, and a joyous start to the new week!

Your happily blogging actor friend,

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Jon Baas

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